Been watching the World Cup? We have. Over the last few days, our house – specifically, our TV – sounds like it is the nest of a very large swarm of bees due to those annoying plastic horns the spectators incessantly blow during the game. I’ve had to mute it a few times just because the sound was starting to make me swat at my ears, pull my knees up to my chin, rock back and forth, and mumble about our new bee overlords. I actually found myself longing for the soothing sound of Dick Vitale’s craziness displayed through his over-cooked hyperbole and 80’s catch phrases. Heck, I’d even settle for Brent Musburger refusing to call Iowa the “Hawkeyes” but instead calling them the “Hackeyes” during college football telecasts.
On second thought, I’ll take the plastic horns over both Vitale and Musburger.
The Nitmos’ family’s very lives have been saturated with soccer lately. If we were a vanilla cone and chocolate dip was soccer, somewhere along the line we must have ordered a double dip of chocolate. We have reached the age where the fun little kid sport has turned political involving adults with an agenda.
Over the past week, here’s what has been going down: My colt will be in the seventh grade. He is considered a U13 player (for those uninitiated to these classifications, ‘U13’ simply means ‘13 and under’). At U13 level, the kids can start trying out for ‘premier league’ teams that compete statewide for state titles/trophies/cups/honors/better Popsicles. There are two main local premier league teams in my area. One, Team A, has been around awhile and has been top dog and actually does challenge for the state cup every year. The other, Team B, is the upstart and has only been around three years and is still building name recognition and developing their program. Team A likes to win. Team B would like to win but is more interested in developing soccer players.
My colt tried out for both this past weekend. And here’s where the politics come in. Team A is run by a coach who serves double duty as the Director of Coaching for the club level teams (a step below premier) where my colt has been playing for the past three years. He knows my colt well. He knows my colt’s team well as he has attended practices and games and provided personal additional training. The expectation, by him, was that the kids good enough to move on to a premier team would move from the club level, under his supervisory umbrella, to his premier team.
Guess what? Kids make decisions for many different, unexpected reasons. Every one of the kids that tried out and made both Team A and Team B’s premier teams – including my son – selected…Team B.
Dong punch delivered to Team A coach. Cue sad trombone.
This went down on Sunday. You should also know that Team A scheduled their tryouts on Sunday at the exact same time as Team B (even though Team B posted their times first) in an effort to cut Team B off at the knees. A pissing contest…a stare down…whatever you want to call it. And Team A lost it.
And so, Sunday night at 10 PM, we are sitting around trying to relax after a busy weekend of criss-crossing the town, placing phone calls, answering emails related to various tryouts. A team has been chosen; stress relieved.
My home phone rings. Is there a fire or something ‘cuz it’s 10 PM?!?
It’s the coach from Team B. Are you sure your colt is signing with us? I need to know for sure because we are holding more tryouts tomorrow and I need to know how many spots are left to fill on my roster. Before I can answer, my cell phone, set to vibrate (for many deep pocket personal reasons), starts shaking across the table. I tell Team B coach we are 100% committed and hang up. I listen to the message left on my cell phone. It is the coach from Team A. We want your colt on Team A and I’m told he may be choosing Team B. I’m certain our program is better than Team B and that we do better statewide in tournaments.
Too bad, so sad, my colt and his friends are part of Team B.
If that were the end of it, that would be fine. Instead, I received two more emails and two more phone calls from the Team A coach before noon Monday. The phone calls started getting more confrontational, guilt trips were deployed, the hard sell was on. They were rebuffed. My colt feels more comfortable with Team B’s coaches and is not switching.
If even that was the end of it, that would be fine. But it just so happens that I am the coach for my filly’s U9 club level soccer team under Team A coach’s supervision. Ack-ward. Her tryouts were yesterday and today. Guess what topic of conversation comes up every single time I see Team A coach? He’s now resorted to telling other parents, loudly enough so I can overhear, how annoyed he is that he lost so many kids to Team B.
Yes, it’s been an interesting few days. I feel like, at some point, I missed an opportunity to go all USC and ask for a car to seal the deal for my colt's team placement.
Soccer. Politics. Tug’o war involving seventh graders. The ugly side of sports.
I can only imagine what these World Cup players went through off the field to get where they are at today.
But forget about all that. Watch the World Cup. Enjoy the world’s best players. Blow your damn horns.